Communities play greater role in China's elderly home care

(Xinhua) 14:32, October 24, 2023

BEIJING, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Li Yuqing, a 54-year-old villager in suburban Beijing, is a mutual help assistant for elderly care in the neighborhood. Her job is to visit elderly people living alone in the village and help them with health data measuring, home cleaning, medicine purchasing, and other issues on demand.

The local government engages Li and a number of other villagers in their 40s and 50s in a pilot mutual help elderly care project. The project aims to ensure the home safety of elderly villagers living alone, which has become a rising issue against the backdrop of China's aging population in both urban and rural areas.

By the end of 2022, China's population aged 60 and above reached 280 million. Official data predicted that more than 37 percent of its rural population will be aged 60 and above, about 14 percentage points higher than the figure for 2020.

In response, the country has been promoting community-based at-home elderly care services to complement inadequate nursing homes and cater to many Chinese elderly's traditional ideas of spending the rest of their lives in their own homes.

China's Chongyang Festival celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, falls on Monday this year. Also known as Seniors' Day in China nowadays, it highlights the public's care for older people, which is also the spirit of community-based elderly home care.

In urban areas, elderly care has been incorporated into community services. In Hangzhou, the capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, community care homes help family members of elderly people to take care of them.

Pu Yanghua, a 77-year-old senior suffering from memory decline, spends her daytime at the care home in her community at a cost of 80 yuan (11.1 U.S. dollars) per day. Every day, care home staff accompany Pu to the care home in the morning, and her family members take her home in the evening.

In Beijing, the civil affairs authority is piloting a project that divides communities into groups to provide elderly care services. Each group has two elderly care experts and a number of service workers and volunteers.

Local governments nationwide also provide various public assistance to improve the life quality of seniors living alone. In central China's Hunan Province, the government of Changsha County has purchased at-home care services for disabled elderly people, including haircuts, meal cooking, and health guidance.

Seniors with disabilities and dementia should be a focus of elderly care in rural areas, said Xu Jiazeng, an expert on elderly services based in Zhejiang. Xu suggested encouraging rural medical facilities and doctors to participate in elderly care, including providing regular health check and home visit services to people of advanced age or with serious diseases or disabilities.

Elderly-orientated reconstruction is another key field of elderly care public services. In Zhejiang Province, the capital city of Hangzhou is installing monitoring devices such as smoke alarms and emergency callers for seniors. At the same time, the government of Lishui has provided night lights, shower chairs, and other equipment that facilitate the elderly's lives to over 2,300 families with elderly members in rural areas since 2021.

According to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, in the next two years, the country will continue to equip communities nationwide with elderly care facilities and enable citizens to enjoy more convenient and high-quality elderly care services.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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